Global arms control experts warn Trump against scrapping Iran nuclear deal
Over 80 prominent international disarmament experts have urged US President Donald Trump to reconsider his possible plans to unravel Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with six world powers, including the US.
In a Wednesday statement organized by the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based disarmament advocacy group, experts in nuclear nonproliferation diplomacy from around the world hailed the deal as a “net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts,” The New York Times reported.
The experts warned Trump that “unilateral action by the United States, especially on the basis of unsupported contentions of Iranian cheating, would isolate the United States.”
Some of the signatories to the statement included Nobuyasu Abe, commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission; Hans Blix, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Thomas E. Shea, a former safeguards official at the International Atomic Energy Agency; and Thomas M. Countryman, a former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.
Director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association Kelsey Davenport expressed concern that Washington’s possible plans to scrap the Iran deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will eliminate any possibility of resolving North Korea’s nuclear weapons crisis through negotiation.
“Given that we are already struggling to contain the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis, it would be extremely unwise for the president to initiate steps that could unravel the highly successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which would create a second major nonproliferation crisis,” she said.
The JCPOA was inked between Iran and the P5+1 countries — namely the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain plus Germany — in July 2015 and took effect in January 2016.
Under the deal, limits were put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related bans imposed on the Islamic Republic, among other things.
Trump, who had made no secret of opposing the nuclear agreement in his election campaign, has threatened to “tear up” the agreement, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
In late August, the Trump administration sent US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to Vienna to lobby the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to request access to Iranian military sites as part of the deal, in spite of the fact that the IAEA has confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA in all its reports.
On Monday, the IAEA, however, once again confirmed that Iran has lived up to its commitments under the landmark nuclear agreement.
Trump has also set up a team of his White House confidants to present him with “options” other than certifying Iranian compliance with the deal to Congress. Such certification is needed by US law every 90 days in order for Congress to continue to withhold nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.
Tehran has repeatedly contended that Washington’s demands for access to Iran’s military sites are aimed at politicizing the JCPOA and that issues pertaining to the Islamic Republic’s defense capabilities are non-negotiable.
Tehran says it plans to adhere to the nuclear deal regardless of any probable US decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The Trump administration has twice so far certified Iran’s compliance with the deal. US media reports said Trump agreed to those certifications only “reluctantly.” All indications are that he wants to avoid a third certification.
While the US acts as the sole detractor of the landmark deal, the UN, the EU and major world countries have defended the JCPOA and appreciated Iran’s full compliance with it.